04 March 2009

Learning letters

A1's love of structured academics is both strong and strange (though considering that both his parents have doctorates, maybe it's not that strange). So when he turned 2 and his brother joined us, we needed some quiet activities in which to engage during A2's morning naps. We ended up spending a few weeks on letters, working only when he made a specific request and usually 5 or 10 minutes at a single sitting.

Pattern recognition: Matching. I started by collecting all the different lettered toys around the house. I picked a single letter and asked him to find the one that looked similar with a simple prompt, such as, "Which of these letters up here looks like the ones down here?" This helped him to recognize the general appearance of the different letters and to generalize this basic notion across color and form (i.e., magnet, wooden block, transparent block, etc.).
recognition - matching

Pattern recognition: Sorting.
Once he was more familiar with a few individual letters, I let him differentiate a collection of them through a sorting exercise, "Let's put all the ones that look like each other together!" When I labeled them, I talked about how many there were and the different colors--concepts with which he had great familiarity and comfort at that point, thereby pairing new information (letter names) with previously integrated knowledge (numbers and colors). For example, "Let's count all the A's," or,"Look at the blue M's all in a row!" He was, at this point, not responsible for knowing the letters just yet.
recognition - sorting

Receptive language: When I sensed his comfort with the entire alphabet, we would practice receptively wherein he would communicate his knowledge without specific verbalizations. Prompts for receptive language might go like this, "Can you point to the E?" or "Show me which one is P."

Expressive language: The transition to expressive understanding happened quite naturally because he began to call out letter names even without my asking. Expressive language involves verbal output and follows such prompts as, "What letter is this?" or "What am I pointing at?"

Both receptive and expressive exercises can be pretty fun because you can find letters everywhere. Sometimes, they're likely ordered as an alphabet.

And sometimes they even come with neat pictographs.
Hot Ash Only

Really, you can find uppercase letters anywhere,

...and they don't even have to be in English for the game to be fun!
Chien Bizarre


Michelle said...

This is a great post! I'm sort of at a loss for when to start teaching TLE letters/numbers but this will be wonderful for when she is ready. For now, she is happy to just tear apart her alphabet mat.

LH said...

Well, A1 LOVES structure so this worked for us very well, but the best way to teach letters and numbers is probably in a more naturalistic manner by reading books and observing the different numbers and letters that occur in your everyday environment.

Ivan Chan Studio said...

Your kids are so lucky to have you as a mom.

I love that last sign. The one I've been looking for (but didn't buy when I had the chance, hence the unrequited quest) is: Chien Lunatique.


LH said...

I, paint a Chien Lunatique sign yourself! ;)

Ivan Chan Studio said...

But I want one from the same company (and in the same style and material) as your "Chien Bizarre"!

Hm. Perhaps I could make a painting of it. Like those paintings of gas station or diner signs?